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Xavier Becerra ditches mask at Biden event as White House stands firm on face coverings

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra ditched his face mask on Thursday after appearing to be agitated by it ahead of introducing President Biden at a Virginia event on lowering health care costs. 

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Becerra, the first speaker of the event, walked up to the podium and started his remarks while wearing a black face mask. 

After just over a minute of speaking, he was seen touching the side of the mask before saying, “Let me just go ahead and take off this mask.” 

After taking off the face covering, he promptly resumed his remarks. 

Immediately after introducing the next speaker at the event — Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) — the secretary put his black face mask back on, before shaking hands with the congresswoman. 

Spanberger removed her mask before delivering her remarks to introduce Biden, as well as a mother and son who officially introduced the president.

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Biden kept his face covered while being introduced, standing on stage with the mother and son. When he finally approached the podium — and was alone on stage — Biden removed his mask and continued his remarks without one, as he typically does during events at the White House. 

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra took off his mask while introducing President Biden at an event in Virginia on Feb. 10, 2022.
The White House
One minute into his speech Becerra said he had to "go ahead and take off this mask.”
One minute into the speech, Becerra said he was going to take off his mask.
The White House

Becerra’s mask ditch comes one day after the White House stood firm in its push for Americans to keep wearing masks while indoors, despite Democratic and Republican governors lifting mask mandates across the country. 

“If you are a parent, a teacher, a student living in a state where [masking] is no longer recommended, should you still follow the CDC guidelines?” one reporter asked press secretary Jen Psaki during Wednesday’s press briefing. 

“Yes,” Psaki simply said. 

“So even if the state is not requiring that you wear masks in the schools?” the reporter clarified.

“This is where we would advise any American to follow the CDC guidelines,” Psaki responded.

The event comes one day after the White House urged Americans to listen to CDC guidelines for wearing masks indoors.
The incident comes one day after the White House urged Americans to listen to CDC guidelines for wearing masks indoors.
The White House

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends mask-wearing in areas of “substantial” or “high” transmission — which is currently the case in 99.4 percent of counties in America. 

This week, however, Democratic Govs. Kathy Hochul of New York, Phil Murphy of New Jersey and Ned Lamont of Connecticut joined their Republican counterparts in lifting or modifying mass mask requirements.

“Can you blame Americans for being confused and frustrated and having no idea who they should be listening to right now?” another reporter asked Psaki.

“Well, our guidance is consistently — has consistently been this: When you are in a high-transmission area, which is everywhere in the country, you should wear a mask in indoor settings, including schools,” the press secretary said.

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